Find the best washing machine for you with our bite-sized reviews and handy buying guide
Unless you have a penchant for launderettes, investing in the best washing machine you can afford is a wise decision. It’s not the most glamorous purchase you will ever make, but choose wisely today and you will have a machine that will tackle the toughest stains, pamper your clothes, and last for years to come.
Whether you walk into a showroom or peruse your preferred online retailer, you will find yourself faced with a daunting array of bland white boxes, each adorned with specs and buzzwords. Make no mistake, though: it’s impossible to choose the best washing machine by looks or specifications alone.
Read on and we’ll explain all the key things you should consider, followed by a shortlist of the best budget, mid-range and high-end washing machines that we’ve discovered with our in-depth testing, extensive research and feedback from industry experts.
How to choose the best washing machine for you
How much should you spend?
If you’re working under the assumption that spending more on a machine will guarantee improved washing performance, then you will probably be rather pleased to hear that you’re wrong. Our tests of a wide range of machines show that, in many cases, pricier machines simply increase wash capacity or add extra features – such as automatic dosing and Wi-Fi control – rather than offering improved stain-tackling prowess.
That’s not to say that you should buy the very cheapest machine you can. Many of the big-name budget brands we’ve tested have failed to impress, and once you drop too far below the £400 mark, you will often find that key features such as pre-wash programmes, emergency drain-down features and accessible filters (for removing those coins and buttons that have blocked up the machine) start to disappear. Do away with those features, and you will struggle to clean nappies or children’s soiled clothes effectively, and may end up incurring expensive engineer call-out charges every time you forget to empty your pockets.
For reference, the best affordable machine we’ve tested over the last few years is Bosch’s relatively basic Serie 4 machine. Indeed, if your household can make do with a modest 7kg load capacity, then a ~£400 model from a big-brand manufacturer may be the best-value option.
If, however, you need the biggest drum capacity possible to cope with a larger household, then you have two choices: spend more on a premium brand model, or settle for a big-capacity model from one of the more affordable brand names.
What features should I look out for when buying a washing machine?
1. Energy consumption
Energy consumption and water use are the two factors that determine how much your washing machine will cost to run per year. As of March 2021, the old and mildly confusing EU Energy Label system, which graded appliances from A+++ down to A, has come to an end. It has been replaced with a new energy rating scheme that rates efficiency from A to G, with A being the most efficient. As before, an A-rated washing machine may be slightly more efficient than another A-rated machine, but the differences between similarly labelled appliances are negligible.
Each label also contains a figure for the washing machine’s power consumption rated at kWh per 100 washes (this used to be an annual consumption figure), and the water consumption used per cycle (this used to be measured in litres per year). The sticker now shows the duration of a full load wash cycle, and each machine’s load capacity for the now mandatory Eco 40-60 wash is also stated clearly.
The energy rating changes are refreshingly sensible, and it’s now easier to compare models via the energy rating stickers and estimate energy usage for your household.
2. Drum size
Drum size is quoted as the total weight of dry washing that can be loaded into the machine. For a typical household, a 6kg drum will suffice, but a larger 8kg or 10kg drum can be very useful. Not only does it let you wash more clothes in one go, it means you can wash larger items, such as duvets.
A larger drum will also tend to be more efficient, requiring less water and detergent to wash the same amount of clothes as a machine with a smaller drum.
3. Spin speed
The spin speed tells you how fast the drum is capable of spinning in revolutions per minute (rpm). Generally speaking, the faster the spin speed, the drier your washing will be when the machine has finished. Budget washing machines may spin at around 1,100rpm, but look for a 1,400rpm or 1,600rpm machine for the best performance.
All washing machines come with adjustable feet, and it’s important to ensure that the machine is level when you install it. A wobbly machine will rattle about and make a racket, and other vibration-related problems could develop further down the line.
4. Wash modes
Pay careful attention to the special wash cycles on a washing machine. A Woolmark-certified machine can wash woollen garments, while some machines have special silk modes. If you frequently wear delicate items, a hand-wash mode can save you a lot of manual labour. Some machines have anti-creasing and easy-iron settings, which will make it easier to care for those items you need to iron at the end of a wash.
Is it worth buying a Wi-Fi-connected machine?
It’s not essential, but it can be rather handy. Many machines these days partner Wi-Fi control with automatic dosing features, and these two features are a match made in laundry heaven. Simply throw washing in the drum, shut the door and you can set a wash going from anywhere in or outside the home.
The automatic dosing concept is quite brilliant, too. These machines have built-in tanks for detergent and softener which can be topped up every week or two depending on your usage. A further benefit here is that the machine can then use the optimal amount of detergent and softener for the load. Many of us tend to use too much detergent in the hope of improving wash performance, when it’s actually more likely to reduce performance and simply clog up the machine.
What are the best brands to buy?
It’s difficult to generalise here, as we’ve seen good, bad and middling machines from a wide range of manufacturers. One useful thing to note while you’re shopping, however, is that many brands are owned by a single parent company. For instance, Bosch, Siemens and Neff are all owned by BSH, with Bosch products generally pitched at the mid-price market, while Siemens and Neff are aimed more towards the high-end buyer.
As a result, we wouldn’t set too much store on a particular brand; the only way to be accurately gauge a machine’s performance is to test it thoroughly, and it’s almost impossible to get a good understanding of a machine’s reliability by reading reviews of any kind. Your best protection is to look for a lengthy warranty with no hidden call-out charges. In our reviews, we always dismantle any machines we test to see how repairable the parts are in the event of a problem. Most machines are built to be disposable these days, but some are markedly less disposable than others.
READ NEXT: How to clean your washing machine
The best washing machines you can buy in 2023
1. Beko RecycledTub WTL94151W: Best budget washing machine
Price when reviewed: £329 | Check price at John Lewis
This is the budget washing machine with a conscience. Okay, so it’s not fully made of recycled materials but Beko’s RecycledTub range uses recycled plastic bottles which contribute to around 10% of the materials used in each machine’s tub, which is a positive start.
With a family-sized 9kg capacity and decent 1,400rpm spin speed this is an inexpensive washing machine that users love. Not only do they praise the low noise level, but also the performance and wash cycles, in particular the quick wash, which isn’t surprising given that it can wash a full 9kg load in just 28 minutes or a 2kg load in 14 minutes.
In addition to all the usual wash cycles, there’s an Anti-Allergy cycle endorsed by Allergy UK, which is a welcome addition for buyers who struggle with allergies to things such as pollen, dust mites and pet hair. The StainExpert cycle tackles tough stains, and regular gym goers will appreciate the Sports wash cycle.
The intuitive interface and large easy-to-load porthole mean this is a machine that’s simple to use – and it’s affordable, too.
Key specs – Drum size: 9kg; Max spin speed: 1,400rpm; Rated efficiency: B; Wool wash: Yes; Delicate wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes
2. Hisense WFQA9014EVJM: Best A-rated washing machine under £400
Price when reviewed: £399 | Check price at AO Not only is this Hisense washing machine super-affordable, but the A energy rating means it’s cost-effective to run, too. So, at a time when we’ve all got one eye on our electricity bill, this is a model well worth considering. Larger households will welcome the roomy 9kg drum, while also noteworthy is the Pause & Add feature that allows you to momentarily halt the cycle within the first 10 minutes of starting to add in any forgotten items. The 1400rpm spin is very good, but it isn’t the most efficient in this round-up. There are 15 wash programmes to choose from, including a 15-minute quick wash and steam cycles that kill bacteria and reduce odours; the latter are perfect for allergy sufferers or households with young children. Online reviewers praise the Hisense for being quiet in operation and simple to use – it’s a great all-rounder.
Key specs – Drum size: 9kg; Spin speed: 1,400rpm; Rated efficiency: A; Wool wash: Yes; Silk wash: No; Hand wash: No
3. Bosch Series 4 WAN28281GB: Best washing machine under £500
Price when reviewed: £459 | Check price at Amazon Contrary to expectations, the previous generation of Bosch’s affordable Serie 4 machine blew us away by delivering top-notch washing performance for not much cash. The previous model we tested, the WAN28201GB (read our full review), sailed through the Expert Reviews tests, winning itself a coveted five stars and a Best Buy award for both price and efficiency. Our testers were blown away by how well it performed, especially on the 40˚C and 60˚C cycles. In fact, it achieved better results than some machines at twice the price.
Sadly, the supplies of the WAN28201GB seem to have finally run dry, and now the similar-sounding WAN28281GB has taken the reins. The specs are all consistent with the previous model, with an ample 8kg drum capacity and 1,400rpm spin speed, but a closer inspection of the product images on Bosch’s site suggests that the drum design is now closer to the fancier type previously only found on Bosch’s higher-end machines.
It looks like Bosch is onto another winner here. If you’re looking for great cleaning performance and don’t mind a slightly noisier and less power-efficient model than the pricier Serie 6 Bosch below, then you can’t go wrong here.
Key specs – Drum size: 8kg; Max spin speed: 1,380rpm; Rated efficiency: C; Wool wash: Yes; Delicate wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes
4. AEG L9FEC966R: Best high-end washing machine
Price when reviewed: £1,149 | Check price at John Lewis As the L9FEC966R is a fully paid-up member of AEG’s top-of-the-line 9000 Series, you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s really a very, very good washing machine. It has a 9kg load capacity, 1,600rpm spin speed and it gets the top-dog A rating for energy efficiency in the revised energy rating scheme – and this makes it a good deal more efficient than the cheaper C-rated models you will find above.
AEG makes big claims for the L9FEC966R with the aid of various Scandinavian-sounding marketing buzzwords, but the long and short of it is that it’s simply very good at what it does. There are no fripperies such as Wi-Fi, but instead you get a stylish-looking machine that churns out largely brilliant wash performance while using less energy than even Bosch’s top-line Serie 8 machine. Even the 20-minute 3kg quick wash is unusually competent, with stain-destroying performance that leaves rivals in the dust.
If we had to pick holes, we would moan that the stain-tackling prowess of the 40℃ wash could be better. But, given the sterling results from the 30℃, 60℃ and quick-wash tests, we’re not inclined to make a big deal of it.
This is a superb machine – and as you can currently pick it up at a generous discount, it’s well worth snapping up.
Read our full AEG L9FEC966R review
Key specs – Drum size: 9kg; Spin speed: 1,600rpm; Rated efficiency: A; Wool wash: Yes; Silk wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes
5. Bosch Series 4 WGG04409GB: Best A rated mid-priced washing machine
Price when reviewed: £599 | Check price at AO Energy efficiency is top of everyone’s list right now, but you don’t need to shell out for fancy top-of-the-range models to minimise running costs. Bosch is a firm favourite for reliable laundry appliances and this A-rated washing machine has everything you need to help keep bills low. The roomy 9kg capacity will allow you to do fewer loads and with adjustable temperature and spin speed, you can easily programme it to suit your needs. Plus, it’s equipped with an EcoSilence drive motor so it should be noticeably quieter than your old machine. While the A rated energy efficiency puts your mind at ease with regards to electricity consumption, those with a water meter will welcome the ActiveWater Plus tech, an on-board water management system that will ensure it only uses what it needs. It’s got all the usual wash programmes as well as a SpeedPerfect programme that can wash a full load in an hour. It’s the perfect cycle for clothes that need more of clean than the ultra-fast 15- and 30-minute cycles will provide.
Key specs – Drum size: 9kg; Max spin speed: 1,400rpm; Rated efficiency: A; Wool wash: Yes; Silk wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes – delicates